Monday, May 29, 2017

Hiller UH-12E, N138HA, Slikker Flying Service, Inc: Fatal accident occurred May 27, 2015 in Wasco, Kern County, California

Jay Psomas 


The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:
https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Slikker Flying Service, Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N138HA





NTSB Identification: WPR15LA168 
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 27, 2015 in Wasco, CA
Aircraft: HILLER UH 12E, registration: N138HA
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 27, 2015 about 0815 Pacific daylight time, a Hiller UH-12E, N138HA, impacted an onion field during agricultural application operations near Wasco, California. The pilot was fatally injured, and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Slikker Flying Service, Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an agricultural flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from a refueling truck about 0813. 

The truck operator reported that the pilot had just finished spraying a small field. The helicopter was filled with fuel and about 30-40 gallons of water to clean out the spray system. The pilot took off and departed the immediate area about 15 ft above the field. The truck operator cleaned the fuel/spray truck and was getting into the truck when he observed a plume of black smoke about ¼ mile away over a field crest. He drove toward the fire and observed the helicopter engulfed in flames. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter, and a Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate dated February 18, 2015, with no limitations. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. During the pilot's last medical examination, he reported 1,136.2 total hours of flight experience, 277 of which were accrued in the previous 6 months. The pilot was hired by the operator in February 2014. 

The pilot initially survived the accident but succumbed to his injuries about one week later. No autopsy or toxicology testing was performed. 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 0754, automated weather observation at Bakersfield Kern County Airport (BFL), located about 25 nautical miles southeast of the accident site, included wind from 290° at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 18°C, dew point 8°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.97 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The helicopter impacted the onion field in a right-skid-low attitude. The field was disturbed between the first point of impact and the main wreckage. Throughout this area were bearings and portions of the tail boom and windscreen. The helicopter came to rest on its right side. The cabin area was destroyed and sustained heavy thermal damage. The tail boom was fracture-separated about mid-span and was found partially underneath the main wreckage.

The helicopter's main cabin was mostly consumed by the postcrash fire; however, the majority of the airframe remained intact. The cyclic, collective, and pedals were all found loose within the main wreckage; all exhibited signs of heat distress. The left side of the spray boom was fracture-separated in an aft direction. The tail boom was fracture-separated about mid-span, consistent with main rotor blade contact. 

Control continuity from the cabin controls to the main rotor system was established. There was no evidence of binding or restrictions on the intact portions of the control linkages. The control linkages located underneath the seats and behind the cabin firewall exhibited breaks and evidence of heat distress. The observed fracture surfaces that were not consumed by the postcrash fire exhibited signatures consistent with overload. 

Both main rotor blades remained attached to the main rotor hub. Both blades were deformed opposite the direction of rotation. The tips of both blades were fracture-separated and were not located. 

The angled tail rotor drive shaft remained connected to the main transmission tail output flange, but it was separated at the aft end. The shaft and shaft housing were deformed about 90° to the left. Separated, deformed, and heavily fragmented pieces of the tail rotor drive shaft exhibited signatures consistent with overload. The aft portion of the tail rotor drive shaft remained attached to the severed aft tail boom structure and was connected to the tail rotor gearbox; when rotated, the tail rotor blades rotated normally. 

The tail rotor blades remained installed at the tail rotor hub. The first blade exhibited a fracture at its leading edge near the root end of the blade and was deformed in the opposite direction of normal rotation. The second blade exhibited downward, chordwise bending near its inboard end. 

The main transmission and engine remained mounted to the airframe. The main rotor mast exhibited evidence of contact with the main rotor hub. 

The spark plugs were removed from the engine and exhibited normal operating signatures and evidence of sooting. The rocker covers were removed and there was no evidence of heat distress. The dual carburetor was removed from the engine and disassembled. There was no evidence of blockage. The interior of the right carburetor was dry, and the floats exhibited cracks. The interior of the left carburetor was wet with possible corrosion byproducts. Both magnetos were removed from the engine and rotated freely. The fuel tank was ruptured and contained no fuel. The fuel screen did not exhibit evidence of blockage or contamination.





NTSB Identification: WPR15LA168
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 27, 2015 in Wasco, CA
Aircraft: HILLER UH 12E, registration: N138HA
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 27, 2015 about 0815 Pacific daylight time, a Hiller UH-12E, N138HA, impacted an onion field during spray operations near Wasco, California. The pilot (sole occupant) died, and the helicopter was destroyed. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Slikker Flying Service Inc under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137 as an agricultural flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from a refueling truck about 0813.

The refueler reported that the pilot had just finished spraying a field when he stopped at the refueling truck to partially fill the hopper with water. After filling the hopper, the pilot took off to empty the hopper. The refueler turned away to prepare for leaving, and when he turned around, he saw smoke rising from the field. He mentioned that he did not hear any abnormal noises from the helicopter prior to seeing the smoke. 

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